I can not believe that I am writing this to you on your EIGHTEENTH birthday. I started writing to you when you were four. I am almost at a loss as to what to say. While I know that I will always be your mom, I know that no matter how hard it is for me, this era of our lives is drawing to a close. I don't think it is wrong for me to take a moment to grieve that soon things will be radically different. You won't be in your room at the bottom of the stairs every night when I go to bed. Your dreams are coming true and they are much bigger than our little house. And I love that, but it hurts too.
Parenting is the most beautifully, exquisitely painful, thing I have ever experienced. It fills your heart while simultaneously breaking it over and over. We are already experiencing the end of so many sweet "always" things. This was the first year ever that I delivered Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes without you. We didn't get to have corndogs at Sonic on Halloween. You have your own job, and school, and it is good! I'm so thankful for all the opportunities you have. We have worked hard to train you up in the fear of the Lord, and the time is quickly approaching where you will get to choose on your own how to put into practice all you've learned.
And I know that you will still need me, but it will be different. You are already so wonderfully independent in so many amazing ways. You have made juggling college classes, work, and church commitments look effortless. But even beyond that, you have traveled with friends and student government on your own, found a new job, applied for college and managed to help out friends and family, too.
You are creating a life that you love and seeing you achieve so many goals is absolutely inspiring. You decided to go after a position in the college student government and you have fallen in love with it. You found a place in a group of strangers who are now friends. You have put on countless events already, and attended so many retreats and conferences. The highlight was sneaking in a trip to Disneyland this last week, which was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for you! I could not have been happier for you.
I know you have your heart set on going away to school, and I know you will be successful at whatever you choose to do. You are still so fearless, and you love a new adventure. I know that you will stay strong in your faith wherever life takes you. Your love for Jesus hasn't wavered, and He will never fail you.
I am SO proud of who you are. I have always loved you, but the older you get the more I truly like you. You have reached an age where you need less "telling" and more "recommending". I can trust you to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and I am always praying that will be true. I hope you will always know that the advice I give is based on my desire for you to follow the Lord, and that you will be able to trust that my love for you is an outflow of the love He has for us. And I pray you will never "outgrow" your need for me to be your mother. I love you.